March 19, 2005
ATLANTA–Reggie Ball passed for 224 yards and one touchdown, Calvin Johnson caught six passes for 176 yards and Georgia Tech’s defense turned in some big plays to highlight the Yellow Jackets’ first spring scrimmage Saturday morning at Bobby Dodd Stadium/Grant Field.
Tech head coach Chan Gailey, recovering from last Monday’s angioplasty, watched the scrimmage from the stands.
“There was some good and some bad,” said Gailey. ” I think there was a lack of consistency on the field. There were times when our number one defense looked pretty good, and there were times that we didn’t look good. There were times when our number one offense looked good, and then times that they didn’t look good. But overall, there were a lot of positives to take from this.”
Ball, the rising junior and two-year starter, performed well as he looks to solidify his position with more consistent play. He completed 14 of 24 passes on the afternoon.
“I thought that Reggie had a very good day,” said Gailey “He threw the ball well, made some good decisions. I think he may have taken only one sack and didn’t throw any interceptions, and that’s a real positive.”
A pair of redshirt freshmen are seeking to push Ball. Taylor Bennett completed seven of 14 passes for 50 yards, while Kyle Manley was 8-for-14 for 146 yards and two touchdowns but had an interception and three fumbles.
Johnson, the sensational wide receiver, looks to build upon an outstanding freshman season in which he led the Jackets with 48 receptions for 837 yards and seven touchdowns. He was named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year and first-team all-ACC.
“Of course, Calvin had an unbelievable day out there today, and we never need to take that for granted,” said Gailey. “He played well and can make big plays for us and will probably continue to do that.”
Senior Damarius Bilbo added four catches for 70 yards and one touchdown. Redshirt freshman tailback Drew Gause took a short pass 65 yards for a touchdown. Juniors Xavier McGuire and Chris Dunlap had four catches each.
Tech’s defense returns 10 starters from last year’s unit that ranked 12th in the nation, allowing just 297.9 yards per game.
“Joe Anoai, really early in the scrimmage, I thought played very well defensively,” Gailey said of the junior defensive tackle who had a sack and two hurries. “He made a lot of things happen. He’s hard to block inside because he’s so quick. I think that Gerris Wilkinson and Chris Reis did some good things, but we’ll have to watch the film on that. “
One area with which Gailey was not pleased was the running game. Tech returns all-ACC tailback P.J. Daniels but is rebuilding an offensive line that graduated three starters.
“Some guys looked okay but none looked great,” Gailey said of the backs. “We’ll just have to wait and see. We didn’t run the ball very well overall today in this scrimmage, which is a disappointment, so we’ll have to work some there.
A positive was the play of running back Tashard Choice, a transfer from Oklahoma who ran nine times for 41 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought that Tashard Choice ran very well for his first scrimmage in our offense. I thought he found some holes and ran the ball well.”
Tech’s kicking game appears solid with the return of sophomore Travis Bell, who made a school record 15 straight field goals last fall, earning second-team all-ACC honors. He was perfect on four field goal tries Saturday.
“Travis Bell was excellent,” said Gailey. “I think he made anything he attempted today, whether it was field goals or extra points. Kyle Belcher kicked a really nice long field goal, which was impressive.
Today’s workout was Tech’s last before the Institute’s spring break, which is next week. Spring practice resumes March 29 and continues through April 16.
“I told them to be smart during spring break, that’s the biggest thing, but also to come back with the resolve to finish out spring practice strong,” said Gailey. “I think our guys will because they are anticipating something very special this season and I think they will work for that.”